GARDENING: Jobs for the weekend – Watch out for Mr Mole

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•SNOWDROPS can be lifted and divided as long as you re-plant them straight away.

•Make sure protective straw or fleece is still in place on vulnerable plants overwintering outdoors.

•In cold spells, protect non frost-proof containers with bubble wrap, hessian or fleece. Group pots near a south-facing wall to give extra protection.

•Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs such as Cornus, Salix, Forsythia, Weigela, Escallonia, Rosa, Ribes, Chaenomeles and Elaeagnus and deciduous climbers such as Fallopia and Lonicera. Check last year’s hardwood cuttings, for planting out or potting on.

•Phytophthora root rot can cause dieback on mature trees and shrubs. Wet winter weather and poorly-drained soils will make the likelihood worse on susceptible woody plants.

•Bracket fungus on trees is often noticed this month – if the tree is suffering, call in a tree surgeon.

•If your Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata and S. x buckleyi) didn’t set flower buds, it may be that the temperature was too high (above 18°C/65°F, or had too much artificial light. Move it into cooler conditions away from night lighting. Encourage bushy growth by twisting off outer segments after flowering. These can be used as cuttings if dried and kept warm for a week before potting up.

•Mole activity increases from now until February, due to mating and nest building. Remove the largest hills from your lawn and firm before seeding it in spring.

•FOR more on these topics, plus cook what you grow, traditional recipes, North East information, environmental news and more, visit

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